- Gene Hackman as Henry Hearst
- Morgan Freeman as Captain Victor Benezet
- Thomas Jane as Detective Felix Owens
- Monica Bellucci as Chantal Hearst
I would hardly describe Under Suspicion as the best thriller I’ve ever seen, but it certainly does the job efficiently with style and a great cast to keep you biting your nails as its mystery is unearthed.
In Puerto Rico, Henry Hearst is a powerful and very rich lawyer who is called in police questioning one night, just as he’s about to give an important speech at a charity fundraiser for aid to the island after a devastating hurricane. The previous day he reported finding the body of a young girl while out jogging and Victor Benezet, a police captain and old friend wants to ask him a few questions about it. The murder of the young girl is the second in a string of crimes and Benezet is under pressure to get to the bottom of it. Aided by the eager and cocky young detective Felix Owens, what starts as normal and routine questioning that was promised to take only a small amount of time slowly evolves into something deeper and darker as the various recounting of Henry’s actions begins to change alarmingly and his seedy private life comes into question. Under the grilling of both, Henry’s story begins to slowly unravel as cracks appear left right and centre, which makes the brash Henry look even more guilty as time slowly pushes on. But what is the truth and what is lies? And when Henry’s much younger trophy wife Chantal is interviewed with regards to her husband, things only get a whole lot more mysterious.
Director Stephen Hopkins brings a sense of visual panache with stylish flashbacks that incorporate the conversations of the present in between them blurring the line between truth and falsehood. As lies and deceit come spilling out of what originally appeared to be a simple routine questioning, Hopkins manages to crank the tension up, even when the movie appears to go down the by the numbers thriller route. As the film enters its final third it does become more than a little overly complex and the ultimate outcome undermines the build up a bit, but you can’t help but watch as it does keep you riveted because of the talent behind the camera and in front of it. The fact that Under Suspicion takes place largely in one setting, in this case police headquarters, lends the film a certain claustrophobic impact as Henry attempts to leave but his stories filled with multitudes of holes keep him from doing so and causes him to lock horns with the searching Victor. The intense score, featuring carnival beats of Puerto Rico, gives another layer of mystery to the film as the case is blown wide open. When the plot gets a little sleepy, the score manages to lift it from slumber and give it life.
Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman are both on cracking form here and there scenes of coming to blows are electric. Hackman possesses that charm and arrogance that belies something darker beneath, and Freeman exudes quiet intelligence and the questioning authority of the police captain. When these two acting greats are on screen, it’s a great thing to behold because of the amount of combined talent between them. Thomas Jane is well cast as the probing and hot-headed detective who from the get go is convinced that Henry is guilty as sin. Like Freeman, Jane’s character clashes with Hackman’s but with more physical force, instead of Freeman’s gradual ways of gaining information. Monica Bellucci is smouldering as the icy trophy wife, who has an air of enigma about her and hides that she’s knows more than she is letting on. For the first half she is largely on the sidelines, but eventually through her subtle face and actions, we see that she plays an important part in this mystery as she comes into her own in the latter part of the movie.
So while sometimes a bit jumbled and overly complex, Under Suspicion is nonetheless an absorbing thriller to watch.